Viewing music through a wide-angle lens, Paul Hemmings utilizes the unassuming ukulele to fuse together elements of modern jazz, free improvisation, and American roots music into a signature sound that has been called “bold, beautiful, and full of promise.” He has released six albums on Leading Tone Records, including outings with his ukulele-fronted jazz trio, The Paul Hemmings Uketet, and critically acclaimed recordings with saxophonists John Tchicai and Eric Alexander. His proclivity for crossing musical boundaries led All About Jazz to write, “Hemmings’ mixture of cultures, influences, and genres, exploring the edges of harmony and rhythm, is remarkably fresh and a complete success.”
Based in New York City, Paul performs regularly as leader of The Paul Hemmings Uketet, the dynamic ukulele-bass-drum team he uses to interpret his own original compositions and renditions of modern standards. The group’s latest album, The Blues And The Abstract Uke, is a collection of aural snapshots that focus on the breadth of American blues music through the unique filter of the jazz ukulele trio. Along with Paul on ukulele, the album features Gaku Takanashi on bass and Rudy Royston on drums, in addition to special guests Greg Tardy on tenor saxophone and Curtis Fowlkes on trombone.
Introducing…The Paul Hemmings Uketet, the trio’s aptly named debut, was released in 2012 and features idiosyncratic renditions of a wide cross-section of twentieth-century music, from Thelonious Monk and Antonio-Carlos Jobim to Bob Marley and The Beatles, alongside a handful of Hemmings' original compositions. The album was met with widespread critical acclaim and continues to enjoy airplay on several public radio stations around the country.
In the wake of his first album with The Uketet, Paul has become a familiar face on the burgeoning ukulele festival circuit. With appearances at the Cairns Ukulele Festival in Australia, the New York Ukulele Festival, the Centrum Ukulele Festival in Port Townsend, WA, and many others, Paul has garnered a reputation not only for his compelling performances but also for his accessible workshops. By presenting technically in-depth material in an approachable manner, he has cemented a reputation as the “mad professor” of ukulele instruction. Paul is currently toiling away on a series of books and video tutorials for ukulele players of all stripes.
Playing the part of music educator is a role that Paul has been enjoying for well over a decade. Since 2001, he has been teaching students of all ages at the Third Street Music School Settlement in New York City, the nation’s oldest community music school. He has also held adjunct positions at Marymount Manhattan College, the National Guitar Workshop, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and the California Coast Music Camp, among others. Paul also holds a degree from the acclaimed Jazz Performance program at the New School University in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.